Thomas

The death of Charlie Thomas.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 August 1945.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1945.

 

Wilson Daily Times, 28 August 1945.

Charlie Thomas was a longtime employee of the Gold family of newspaper publishers. Though his family had a plot in Odd Fellows — his wife Sarah Best Thomas and son Louis Thomas were buried there — his obituary reports that he was buried in Rest Haven. His death certificate, on the other hand, lists Rountree Cemetery is his place of burial (which meant, of course, Odd Fellows Cemetery) and, in fact, there is a marker in Odd Fellows engraved with his name and the order’s triple links.

411 New Bern Street.

The one hundred-fifty-fourth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1922; 1 story; Elijah Kane [sic, King] house; double-pile, hip-roofed cottage with center gable and hip-roofed porch; a late and simply classical example of the type in the district; contributing auto garage.”

The house at 411 New Bern Street is the oldest on its block. It is shown below in detail from the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson. [Note the misspelling of “Mewborn,” the original name of New Bern Street. Mewborn is a surname locally associated with a northern Wayne County extended family. Note also that Rountree Street was originally called Bardin Avenue.]

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Thomas Annie (c) lndrs h 411 New Bern. In the 1930 city directory, the address was listed as vacant. 

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Elijah King, 29, laborer with Privett Contractors; wife Emma, 28; and sons George, 9, Elijah, 7, and Richard, 5.

In 1940, Elijah King registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 13 May 1910 in Wilson County; lived at 411 New Bern Street; his contact was wife Emma King; and he worked for C.C. Rackley, building contractor. 

The Kings mortgaged their home in 1940. They defaulted and, in the spring of 1946, it was advertised for auction on the courthouse steps. King was able to buy the house back on 16 April 1946, but in 1948 he and his second wife, Sudie Mae King, took out another mortgage for $400. This debt was paid off successfully, and 411 New Bern Street remained the Kings’ property until it was sold after Elijah’s death in 1980.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 March 1946.

Elijah James King Sr. died 10 January 1980 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 May 1910 in Wilson County to Oscar Ellis and Ella King; was a widower; had worked as a carpenter; and lived at 411 New Bern Street. 

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

Pfc. Thomas writes his family.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 December 1918. 

Wilson Daily Times, 27 December 1918.

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The Daily Times published a handful of letters from African-American soldiers written during World War I, including these from Elton Thomas and two from Arthur N. Darden.

Despite their hopes, Thomas and his buddies did not get home until March 1919. Dave Barnes suffered the effects of his gas attack the rest of his life. This history of Company H, 365th Infantry’s battles in France suggests that the date of injury was November 10, not the 18th.

This service card provides details of Thomas’ time in the Army.

North Carolina World War I Service Cards, 1917-1919, www.ancestry.com

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  • Elton Thomas

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, printing office pressman; wife Sarah, 33; children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2; and lodgers Manse Wilson, 36, and Johnnie Lewis, 21, both carpenters.

In the 1908 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Thomas Elton (c) lather h 616 E Green

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

In 1917, Elton Thomas registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 17 July 1889 in Wilson; lived at 616 East Green Street; was single; and worked as lathing contractor for Kittrell & Wilkins. 

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Clarence Dawson, 23, barber; wife Elizabeth, 22; and daughter Eris, 2; widower father-in-law Charley Thomas, 59; brother-in-law Clifton Venters, 24, his wife Hattie, 20; and in-laws Elton, 29, Marie, 15, Sarah, 10, and Beatrice Thomas, 8.

In the 1927, 1929, 1930, 1934, and 1942 Newark, New Jersey, city directories, Elton H. Thomas is listed at several addresses, including 117 Summer Avenue, 105 Somerset Avenue, and 109 Sherman Avenue.

In 1942, Elton Henry Thomas registered for the World War II draft in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. Per his registration card, he was born 15 August 1894 in Wilson; resided at 108 Sherman Road, Newark; his contact was Charles Thomas, 619 East Green Street, Wilson; and worked for Julius Rose, 327 Amherst Street, Orange, New Jersey. 

On 27 November 1947, Elton Thomas, 52, of Wilson, son of Charlie and Sarah Best Thomas, married Rebecca Williams, 44, of 804 East Vance Street, Wilson, daughter of Solomon and Lettie Kittrell in Wilson. Free Will Baptist minister E.H. Cox performed the ceremony in the presence of Lillie J. Thomas, 715 East Green; Harold E. Gay, 623 East Green; and Louis Thomas Jr., 715 East Green.

Elton Thomas died 15 December 1970 in Goldsboro, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 July 1891 to Charlie Thomas and Sarah Best; was married to Rebecca Thomas; resided in Wilson; and had worked in lathing construction.

  • Miss Richardson
  • Rev. Coward — Bryant P. Coward, pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church.

 

Lane Street Project: Louis Thomas Sr.

Louis Thomas‘ marker, which bears insignia indicating his membership in the Order of Odd Fellows, stands about twenty feet from those of his parents, Charles and Sarah Best Thomas. He was a well-known carpenter.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, pressman for printing office; wife Sarah, 33; and children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

On 14 November 1912, Louis Thomas, 21, son of Charlie and Sarah Thomas, married Georgia Aiken, 19, daughter of John and Mary Aiken, in Wilson. L.A. Moore applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of Moore, Dr. W.A. Mitchner, and C.L. Darden.

Louis Thomas registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 3 February 1892 in Wilson; lived at 644 Green; worked as a carpenter for Sam Vick; was married; and claimed his wife and three sisters as dependents.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 644 Green, house carpenter Lewis Thomas, 26, and wife Georgia, 24.

On 1 April 1923, Louis Thomas, 27, of Wilson, son of Charlie Thomas, married Lillie Jane Howell, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Daniel J. and Rosa Howell, in Wilson. Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of George Coley, Rosa Howell, and George McKee.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 715 East Green, owned and valued at $3000, Gus Thomas, 35, carpenter; wife Lilly, 24; and children Louis, 6, Chas., 4, and V. Jewel, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 715 East Green, Louis Thomas, 43, building carpenter; wife Lillie, 33; and children Louis Jr., 16, Charlie H., 14, and Van Jewel, 12.

Louis Thomas Sr. died 5 October 1950 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born November 1894 in Wilson to Charlie Thomas and Sarah Best; lived at 715 East Green Street; worked as a self-employed carpenter; and was buried in Rountree Cemetery. Lillie Jane Thomas was informant.

Thomas’ obituary notes his membership in the Odd Fellows lodge, but lists his place of burial as Rountree cemetery, the blanket moniker applied to Rountree, Odd Fellows, and Vick cemeteries. 

Wilson Daily Times, 6 October 1950.

 

The obituary of Lizzie H. Dawson, an esteemed woman.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 January 1937.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, printing office pressman; wife Sarah, 33; children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2; and lodgers Manse Wilson, 36, and Johnnie Lewis, 21, both carpenters.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

Elizabeth Thomas, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Charlie and Sallie Thomas, married Clarence Dawson, 21, of Wilson, son of A.D. and Lucy Dawson, on 20 March 1917 in Wilson. Andrew Pierce applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of John Barbour, A.L. Dawson, and Elton Thomas.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Clarence Dawson, 23, barber; wife Elizabeth, 22; and daughter Eris, 2; widower father-in-law Charley Thomas, 59; brother-in-law Clifton Venters, 24, his wife Hattie, 20; and in-laws Elton, 29, Marie, 15, Sarah, 10, and Beatrice Thomas, 8.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 East Green Street, printing office laborer Charlie Thomas, 65; daughter Elizabeth Dawson, 32; son-in-law Clarence Dawson, 31; and grandchildren Eris Dawson, 11, Naomi, 9, Clarence, 7, and Thomas V. Dawson, 3; and daughters Sarah, 19, theatre ticket seller, and Beatrice Thomas, 17.

Lizzie Dawson died 16 January 1937 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 July 1894 in Wilson to Charly Thomas of Nash County and Sarah Best of Wilson, and was married to Clarence Dawson. Informant was Charly Thomas.

Lane Street Project: Charles S. Thomas.

Charles S. Thomas‘ pale gray, fine-grained grave marker is unique in Odd Fellows cemetery. It faces southwest, and in late afternoon, catching the rays of the setting sun, glows golden. Thomas was a barber and insurance salesman and long-time chorist at Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. Before mid-century, granite headstones were relatively rare in Wilson’s African-American cemeteries. (Marble was the favored high-end material; concrete, the ordinary.) The machine-cut decorative features — including the harp as a nod to Thomas’ musical legacy — suggest that this was a replacement stone, perhaps an upgrade, set well after Thomas’ death.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2020.

 

Lane Street Project: Sarah Best Thomas.

Summer 2020, Odd Fellows Cemetery.

December 2020 with leaves fallen and bit of the wisteria cut back.

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In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, hireling Lewis Best, 53; wife Harriette, 50; and children Daniel, 23, Sarah, 12, John, 8, and Willie, 10.

On 25 January 1888, Charles Thomas, 23, son of Sarah Thomas, married Sarah Best, 21, daughter of Lewis and Harriet Best. Missionary Baptist minister J.T. Clark performed the ceremony at Lewis Best’s in the presence of Charles Barbry, Wyatt Studaway and Charles Williamson.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, printing office pressman; wife Sarah, 33; children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2; and lodgers Manse Wilson, 36, and Johnnie Lewis, 21, both carpenters.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

Sarah Thomas died 16 August 1916 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was about 46 years old; was born in Greene County, N.C., to Lewis Bess; and was married. Charles Thomas was informant. Her burial location was listed only as “Wilson County.”

The South is all right.

On the eve of the civil rights movement, Wilson Daily Times editor John D. Gold penned this soothing editorial meant to reassure his readers (or the white ones, anyway) that there was no trouble “between the races” in the South, that colored people know “the Southern white man is his friend,” and that Negroes are loyal and faithful around the house and farm. The piece is rubbish, but includes views of Charlie Thomas, who worked for the Golds as a house servant and at the newspaper, and Dick Pender, who worked for the Golds and, most especially, for Joshua Barnes. (Pender died in 1896; Gold had to reach way back for him.)

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Wilson Daily Times, 12 May 1948.